2018-11-07 / Features

National Wholesale ‘Liquidating’

BY LIZ GOFF


National Wholesale Liquidators will be closing its store on 48th Street in Long Island City by late November. Photo Melissa Mennona National Wholesale Liquidators will be closing its store on 48th Street in Long Island City by late November. Photo Melissa Mennona National Wholesale Liquidators (NWL), once dubbed “a bargain hunter’s delight,” will be closing its store on 48th Street in Long Island City by late November, faced with mounting debt it attributes, in part, to competition from mass market retailers like Walmart and Target that have cut into the company’s base of “bargain hunting consumers,” a company spokesperson said.

The company, in documents filed last month with the US Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, said it has notified employees, including 58 workers at 35-00 48th St. in Long Island City, that they could lose their jobs within 60 days. But workers told the Gazette that the location would close its doors within two weeks. “Most of us thought we would have jobs through the holidays,” a cashier said. “We figured that’s such a busy time that they wouldn’t close before then. But now it looks like this is going to be a tough holiday season for all of us,” the woman said. The company currently employs a total of 695 employees, not counting store managers, assistant managers and administrators.

At its peak, NWL had 50 locations before it filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Approximately 35 of those stores were closed when Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings turned into Chapter 7 liquidation, including 11 stores in New York and New Jersey.

National Wholesale Liquidators was founded in 1984 by Eva Rosen as a company that operated a chain of discount stores featuring closeout, discontinued or slightly irregular items such as appliances, electronics, furniture, clothing and seasonal items – from barbecues to Christmas trees, a company spokesperson said.

“We’re certainly working on trying to save the company,” Phil DeGorter, NWL director of loss prevention and human resources said. “The company is struggling to find a buyer that will rescue it from bankruptcy. We’re hoping to save the jobs,” DeGorter said. “Our managers and employees need their jobs, and they’ve been good, loyal associates.”

NWL officials said in court documents that the company had been hurt by declining sales and rising costs in recent years, and was at a disadvantage as a “brick and mortar” retailer. DeGorter said he also believes the growth of Amazon and other online retailers has hurt the company’s sales, and pointed to the newly-bankrupt Sears and Toys ‘R’ Us as further proof of the cost of online competition. NWL is likely to close each of its 10 remaining stores located in the northeast, including its sprawling, two-story location on Kissena Boulevard in Fresh Meadows, the spokesperson said.

The 48th Street store is currently offering merchandise at discounts of up to 40%, as part of its closing sales.

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